Situation Report: Attack on Corpus Christi Naval Air Station deemed “Terrorism-Related”

The Federal Bureau of investigation has formally declared an attack on the Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi as “terrorism related.”

The suspect, identified as Adam Salim Alsahli, also of Corpus Christi, opened fire on a sailor standing at the security gate, injuring her. Other security guards returned fire killing Alsahli.

Todd Bensman, a national security fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies and former Counterterrorism analyst with the Texas Department of Public Safety reported:

“Two credible sources tell me the Naval Air Base shooter was a foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizen, drove up to gate wearing a head wrap, [tactical] vest, and playing loud Arabic music before he opened fire.”

According to reports from law enforcement, Alsahli, originally from Syria, had shown support for jihadist terror groups online, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (ISIS).

Social media accounts publicly available seem to indicate that Alsahli identified as a student of Umm Al-Qura University, located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. While a large public university in Saudi Arabia, the school does have a number of high-profile hardline clerics among its alumnae.

One is Safar al-Hawali, co-founder of the Sahwah movement, a strain of Islamist thought linked to Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb; and influential on the thinking of Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden. Hawali has been repeatedly jailed over the years by the Saudi government for anti-regime activities. Another is Abdullah al-Muhaysini, a Saudi Pro-Jihadist cleric linked to Al Qaeda’s Al-Nusra front.

A twitter account in the name of Adam Alsahli repeatedly retweeted Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, who together with Muhaysini, was a co-founder of the Hayʼat Taḥrīr al-Shām (HTS), a jihadist group formed out of Al Nusra Front and designated as a terrorist organization.

It is not yet clear whether the attack is linked to an earlier attack on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, when Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi military officer attending training at the station, opened fire killing three and injuring eight more. The U.S. responded with a drone strike killing the leader of AQAP just days following AQAP’s claim of responsibility. Like Pensacola, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is also involved in the training of foreign military pilots.

No terror group has yet claimed the Corpus Christi attack.

About Kyle Shideler

Kyle Shideler is the Director and Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy. Mr. Shideler specializes in Islamist groups operating in the United States, having spent over a decade researching and writing on their history, doctrine, and impact. Read his complete bio here. Follow Shideler on Twitter at @ShidelerK.